Sexual immorality is a massive problem in the church. Premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality, pornography, and masturbation run rampant through the lives of people in our pews. The only way to deal with these massive moral issues is to boldly address them with the word of God. Using 1 Corinthians 5-6 we are going to quickly run through a list of 7 ways we can fight sexual sin in the church.
1. Talk Seriously About Sexual Sin
Sexual sin had become a normal thing in the life of the Corinthian church, so much so that they were engaging in gross immorality “that is not tolerated even among pagans” (1 Cor. 5:1). The Corinthians were so filled with “arrogance” that they were not even concerned over the wickedness that was being committed in their midst. But Paul asserted that the sexual sin among them should have caused them to “mourn” (1 Cor. 5:2). Christians should take sexual sin seriously. It is not a joke, it is a travesty; it should not make us laugh, it should make us weep.
2. Practice Church Discipline Against Sexual Immorality
Paul was very firm and clear in his explanation of what the Corinthians needed to do with the unrepentant sexually immoral person: “purge the evil person from among you” (1 Cor. 5:13). Those professing believers in our church who continually refuse to repent of their sexual misconduct must come under church discipline. We are “not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 5:11). This church discipline is for the health of the church (1 Cor. 5:6-8) as well as for the eternal benefit of the one being disciplined, as it is the hope that he will repent and his soul be saved (1 Cor. 5:5).
3. Preach “Damnation without Repentance”
Unrepentant sexual immorality is a direct path to eternal damnation. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexual immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality…will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). It should be clearly proclaimed from our pulpits the eternal danger of remaining in unrepentant sexual sin.
4. Preach Salvation from Sexual Sin through Christ
Those who have lived a lifestyle of gross, immoral, sexual sin can be forgiven. Right after Paul stated the destination of those in sexual sin, he says “but such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11). The church is filled with people who have once led habitually sinful lives, but have now been cleansed and declared righteous because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And Christ’s church always has room for one more wicked person who is willing to repent and turn to Jesus.
5. Teach People About Their Union with Christ
A Christian’s “union with Christ” is not a doctrine that is much spoken of in our times, and yet Paul mentions it quite frequently in his letters. In 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 Paul uses the Corinthians union with Christ to dissuade them from hooking up with prostitutes. We are connected to Christ, and we are (at this time) a living spiritual temple in which Christ lives. In essence, we are his body on earth, and the incarnation of his person in the church. Thus, a Christian who commits sexual sin with his body is spiritually bringing Christ’s body into the act of sexual immorality. Asking people in our congregations, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?” (1 Cor. 6:15) should hopefully wake them up to the reality of what they are doing.
6. Tell People to Run Away from Sexual Sin
Paul’s simple three word explanation of what to do when temptation comes knocking at your door is: “Flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18). Sexual sin is not to be played with, joked about, or stared at. It is not something we should try and find where the line is. It is not something we should get close to. When we are confronted with sexual temptation we are commanded to do one thing: RUN.
7. Remind the Church that They Are Owned by Christ
Paul’s final exhortation in this passage is to remind the Corinthians that “you are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Christ bought us with his sacrifice on the cross, he paid for our sin and redeemed us from our slavery to sin. Therefore, we belong to Christ. And since we are his, we must life our lives for his glory, and only use our bodies in ways that will bring him honor.